Choosing a lip balm

Lip balm is available in both ointment and waxy formulas. Experts say that viscous lip ointments are best for chapped lips because they can permeate dry, cracked and peeling skin. Waxy balm formulas often come in twist sticks that are convenient and easy to apply. They can also come in a salve that must be applied with the fingers. The best lip balms -- regardless of type -- contain ingredients that are good for the skin and can hydrate and protect your lips from the elements.

  • Look for emollient ingredients. Lips are very susceptible to the elements, because they are always exposed and they don't contain any oil glands to produce moisture. Lanolin, glycerin, vitamin E, shea butter, jojoba oil and hyaluronic acid provide much-needed moisture to this delicate area.
  • Seal in moisture. Products containing petrolatum or mineral oils seal in moisture, allowing lips to heal and preventing further dryness and chapping.
  • Use lip balm every day. Beauty expert Paula Begoun recommends applying lip balm every night before bed to keep dry, chapped lips at bay.
  • Don't lick your lips. It's tempting to lick lips when they are feeling dry, but this actually exacerbates dryness. That's because saliva contains enzymes that break down the protective barrier on lips.
  • Exfoliate. Experts say that exfoliating dry, flaky lips with a toothbrush or washcloth can help improve their appearance and allows lip balms to penetrate the skin more readily.
  • Avoid medicated lip balms. Although some consumers prefer medicated lip balms that leave a tingly feeling behind, experts say they are not necessary and don't heal lips any faster than standard balms. In fact, they may irritate sensitive skin.

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